I had an enjoyable and enlightening experience working in Ishmail Abdus-Saboor’s lab this summer. Working in a mouse behavioral lab gave me the opportunity to learn a wide variety of lab skills in my day-to-day work, from slicing a spinal cord into sections one-third of a millimeter thick and using a microscope to view their individual neurons to extracting DNA from mouse tissue and determining the mouse’s genetic makeup. I also learned some skills in animal handling: I bred and conducted experiments on live mice, and only got bitten once. Throughout the summer, I also regularly discussed experimental design and fundamental scientific concepts with Dr. Abdus-Saboor and the other lab members. The opportunity to conceptualize real experiments dealing with true unknowns and help others do the same was the most meaningful part of my research experience.
The TRAP2 experiment I came into the summer project has not yet come to fruition. Its first iteration, which used viral injections to carry the necessary genetic modifications, did not result in any detectable modified neurons. My next strategy will be to use mice which already have those modifications, but it will take time to breed those mice. In the meantime, I have been involved in experiments led by other members of the lab, such as a project examining the role of “pleasant touch” neurons in development, one examining the differences in touch sensitivity between different mouse strains, and a collaboration with Dr. Wimmer’s lab at Temple on opiate addiction. Finally, I greatly enjoyed organizing a visit to Dr. Abdus-Saboor’s lab by the Jubilee School’s summer program as part of their Science Week.